Minister van Rensburg's Response to Minister Joemat-Pettersson
30 July 2013
In her critique of the Western Cape, Minister Joemat-Pettersson touches on four topics:
- Rural Development
- Farm worker programmes
- The national government’s interventions convened by Deputy President Motlanthe
- The non-political nature of the 2012/13 rural unrest in the Western Cape
I have always maintained a cordial relationship with Minister Joemat-Pettersson, and will continue to do so. I nevertheless need to correct her on her uninformed position regarding the above four topics.
It is not true that nothing is happening in rural development in the Western Cape. As a matter of fact, the Western Cape has in the short time span since 2009 become the national champion of rural development, and has developed an approach and framework which has been adopted by the National Government. Ask Minister Nkwinti.
Farm Worker Programmes
It is not true that the Western Cape is not doing anything for farm workers or addressing farm worker issues. The Western Cape Department of Agriculture is the only department in South Africa with a dedicated farm worker programme. The Western Cape Farm Worker Development Programme receives no financial support from the National Government. The Western Cape Farm Worker of the Year Competition is one of the flagship initiatives of our Farm Worker Development
Programme. We have asked the National Department on several occasions to expand this initiative to a National Farm Worker of the Year Competition. Nothing has happened.
National Government’s Interventions
Deputy President Motlanthe has so far convened two dialogue sessions in the Western Cape: In Paarl in February 2013, and again in De Doorns in May this year. These dialogue sessions has resulted in nothing more than hot air. No plans; no budgets; not even meeting notes. If these meetings did not take place, nothing would have been different. This is in stark contrast to the Western Cape Government’s approach.
The Western Cape Government has developed a 12-point plan. The plan was adopted by Provincial Cabinet on the 24th of April 2013. A budget of R17.37 million was approved for farm worker development issues. The 12-point plan was officially announced at Deputy President Motlanthe second Dialogue event in De Doorns on the 11th of May. Minister Joemat-Pettersson was the Chairperson of that meeting.
Furthermore, progress reports are available on all twelve interventions. The Plan also includes the Future for Agriculture and Rural Economy (FARE) process. This is an all-inclusive attempt to get role players in the Western Cape Province to describe the challenges but to also find a future vision for agriculture in the Province which would be acceptable to all. It is worth mentioning that the ANC also supports this process, and Marius Fransman was at the launch in his capacity as Western Cape Leader of the ANC.
Regarding the Non-political Nature of the Unrest
If this is not a politically driven narrative, why then is it only in the Western Cape? Are organisations, such as BAWSI, also being funded by the National Department of Agriculture to mobilise people in strike activity in the rest of the country?
As Provincial Minister, I am asking the National Minister not to destabilise the situation, and to rise above political rhetoric. It is high time the National Minister becomes the custodian of agriculture in South Africa.